Website designers have been utilizing CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for many years now. I’ve touched on “What Is CSS and Why Use It” few months ago. Over and over again, however, I come across an argument that CSS offers no real advantage and whether you code with it or not is just a matter of preference and habit.
I couldn’t disagree more.
If you are looking to improve the presentation of your website, CSS will help you do it more efficiently and effectively. CSS based design offers advantages that table-based layout can’t compete with.
And here’s how:
- Faster loading of pages
- SEO advantage
- Layouts and design sophistication
- Bandwidth efficiency
First of all, you are separating the content of the web page which is text and images into the HTML file and the visual presentation such as the layout, style, color etc. into a CSS file. This minimizes the amount of code in the actual webpage so the loadtime is shorter.
Also, designing a layout using tables requires much more HTML coding then if you were laying things out using CSS. With CSS, the usual table tags such as “td align” or “td width” are replaced with “divs”. Code for specifying margin, padding, width, height and other visual details is much more consolidated with CSS. What used to take 200 characters with HTML, may take 50 when coding with CSS. Simply because CSS have cut the use of too much markups, websites can load a lot faster than using tables which is good when attracting visitors to a website.
With these two working hand in hand, the difference is substantial.
Since the content is separated from the layout styles, redesigning is a snap with CSS. All you have to update is the CSS file and the changes will be carried across the entire structure. No more digging through the site, page by page, to update a single tag. Because the layout information is centralized, these changes can be made quickly and globally by default. Markup tags are also much easier to locate since they can be logically organized in your file.
As you only update a single file (although you can have many CSS for a single website), the style that you specify applies to any page that you want consistently, without any chance for diversion. This is most evident with positioning. Widths, heights, and margins will be handled the same by any HTML page linking to the same CSS file. You will improve your site’s usability, credibility and overall user experience.
There is a debate whether the use of CSS has any direct impact on SEO. I would say that Google (and any other search engine for that matter) do not have any preference and will certainly not give you any advantage just because your site is CSS based. However, just because there is less code (less messy code) involved, spiders will have easier time crawling your site. And it’s known for a fact that they love clean code (just as much as valid one).
CSS offers freedom in designing that HTML tables never might. While tables are rigid, inflexible, and grid based, CSS-based designs are fluid, flexible and expandable. That gives designers more power and freedom to exercise their creativity. For example, CSS offers absolute positioning of elements paired with the z-index property. This allows CSS-based designs to position elements on top of one another (like layers in Photoshop), allowing for more unique, complex, and beautiful layouts.
A stylesheet is usually stored in the browser cache, and can therefore be used on multiple pages without being reloaded, increasing download speeds and reducing data transfer over a network.
And the 7th reason why you should use CSS? All the cool people gave up tables ages ago. Here, how is that for an incentive?